We’re back! It’s not so clear that we want to be. If you’ve been following our travels (see our previous post), you’ll know that we spent the past week in beautiful Park City, Utah.
First, a recap of the nitty gritty...our flights on Southwest Airlines: The experience in both directions was very straightforward and reassuring. Both flights were on time, arriving early, and the aircraft were immaculate. Southwest is currently leaving middle seats open, and requires facemasks at all times when you’re not eating or drinking. The service is pretty basic—essentially ice water and a snack or two, but that is no longer a differentiating consideration, as compared to many other domestic flights.
The air ports (MDW and SLC) were fairly unoccupied, so transiting through security and the terminals were quick and easy.
Arriving at Salt Lake City International Airport, we retrieved our rental car from Avis (unnecessarily painful, given the fact that we had previously provided all of our information during the online rental process) and were soon on our way to the Lodge at Blue Sky. We’ve described our stay there, but suffice it to say that it was extraordinary.
Blue Sky is a place of exceptional spirituality. It was considered sacred by the Ute Indian Tribe, and before the Lodge was built the plans were blessed by tribal elders. You can’t help but stand in awe of the beauty of the place. It’s far from the crowd, majestic and serene. This place is unmistakably spiritual, and this seems to imbue those who work and visit here with a bit different vibe...they are tuned in to the surroundings, and it’s reflected in a sense of quietude that seems to sweep over all who are there.
It was with more than a bit of reluctance that we drove away from the Lodge after our four-night stay, but we knew an equally fantastic destination was ahead, the Waldorf Astoria Park City. It’s about a 20-25 minute drive from the Lodge at Blue Sky, and it was the point at which we said a temporary farewell to our son Alex and our daughter-in-law Aly, who were headed to Zion National Park for a different kind of adventure.
The Waldorf is beautiful, a combination of New York swank and ski lodge comfy. The ancient Italian fireplace in the main lobby lies in the background of an immense chandelier, and is flanked by centuries-old wooden carvings of two deer, also from Italy. Our suite was a two-bedroom, two-story accommodation, with a high-end kitchen, four fireplaces, and three full bathrooms. Nice. In fact, so nice that our well-traveled son proclaimed it the “nicest hotel (he’d) ever been in.”
One of the unique benefits of being in the travel business is making friends throughout the world, and indeed we soon met up with a long-time acquaintance, and her family. Later in our trip we also had dinner with our dear friends, John and Erynn Montgomery. John and Erynn own Landed (https://landedtravel.com/), and we often work with them to craft itineraries for clients traveling to South America, Central America, and Antarctica. In fact, we have such high regard for their expertise and high standards that we turned to John and Erynn to help plan Alex and Aly’s honeymoon in Costa Rica. It’s through relationships like these that we are able to offer our clients the ultimate experiences, regardless of the destination.
Park City itself is fun. The commercial and residential districts are threaded throughout ski runs and hiking trails. During our time there, we packed in a fair amount of shopping, gallery visits, and hikes. And, we found the downtown location of High West Whiskey . . . again, mixing spirits with spirituality.
While in the area, we also visited Montage Deer Valley, a luxury resort situated high in the mountains. It was a “Wow!” We’ll detail a bit about Montage in a future post.
As we mentioned above, our son Alex and his wife Aly headed off to Zion National Park, where they stayed two nights and hiked The Narrows and Angels’ Landing, under the guidance of an experienced mountain guide. It was an extraordinary day, in which they covered nearly 16 miles of challenging terrain. The photos, some of which are below, tell the story.
Finishing up at the Utah Olympic Park, two of us (guess who) rode the Olympic bobsled run, and we all took in a pretty phenomenal show highlighting present and future Olympians training for their acrobatic ski routines.
Really, we were a bit reluctant when the time came to head back to SLC and, ultimately, what serves as reality.
This was (part of) the time we were supposed to be vacationing with family an friends in Tuscany. That’s been rescheduled to next year, but a tear or two was shed as the flight reminders popped up on our calendars. Our Utah adventure was a partial substitute, reflecting the current challenges in traveling to Italy. But, it was by no means a step down...constantly surrounded by an inspiring landscape, our visit to incredible properties (the Lodge at Blue Sky, the Waldorf Astoria Park City, and Montage Deer Valley) was peppered with wilderness hikes, tremendous food, luxurious accommodations, and an ample supply of spirits and spirituality.
This was, for us, a Proof of Concept...we were supposed to be in Italy at this time, and current conditions dictated that was a no-go. But, apart from the limited number of overseas destinations we could have visited, we knew that there were amazing places to visit within the United States. We may have substituted whiskey for Barolo, but the experience was nothing less than magical--some of the most beautiful places you could imagine, combined with great food, interesting shopping, and an opportunity to connect with our surroundings on a spiritual level. Best of all, it was time spent with family and dear friends. It could not have been better.
Please enjoy a few of our photos....